By Alison Knopf
In another move toward expansion of opioid treatment programs (OTPs) in correctional settings, CODAC Behavioral Healthcare is now providing induction to (and maintenance on) medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in Massachusetts. The innovative program, begun in Rhode Island, where CODAC is based, started in Hampden County, Massachusetts, September 1. All three medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of opioid use disorder—methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone—are included in the program.
CODAC is an opioid treatment program that, in conjunction with Rhode Island, has led many progressive initiatives in the small state (see https://atforum.com/2018/04/mat-during-incarceration-reduces-overdose-deaths/).
Under the leadership of Linda Hurley, CODAC president and CEO, the OTP worked with the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) to launch the country’s first program to screen all inmates for opioid use disorder (OUD), and to provide MAT. In this recent expansion into Massachusetts, the Rhode Island-based provider is implementing a similar program in Hampden County. CODAC is now licensed as an Opioid Treatment Program provider in Massachusetts.
A Disease, Just Like Diabetes or Cancer . . .
“In the midst of our nation’s opioid epidemic, we are excited to be working with the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department on this important step in advancing the message that addiction is a disease, just like diabetes or cancer, and evidence-based therapeutic approaches such as MAT should be available to all patients,” said Ms. Hurley. “What we have accomplished in RIDOC has proven beneficial to the entire state. It’s scalable and feasible elsewhere, and we are always willing to help other states implement similar programs.”
Opioid overdose deaths increased 84% from 2017 to 2018 in Hampden County, even though deaths declined in many other parts of the state.
Sheriff’s Department Support
The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department MAT initiative is part of a statewide pilot program established in 2018 by the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association to provide MAT at five county correctional facilities in the Commonwealth: Middlesex, Franklin, Norfolk, Hampden and Hampshire. (Essex and Suffolk counties later asked to join the program.)
Treatment—From Incarceration Through Post-Release: “The Right Thing To Do”
“Medication-assisted treatment, along with the appropriate group and one-on-one counseling, is one more tool in our addiction recovery toolbox we are now providing inmates,” said Hampden Sheriff Nicholas Cocchi. “There has been a great sense of relief among the people who come to us knowing they will be able to continue their treatment thanks to our staff and the medical professionals working with us on behalf of CODAC Behavioral Healthcare. Medication-assisted treatment just makes sense, and providing it is the right thing to do, says Sheriff Cocchi, a lifelong resident of Ludlow, and a graduate of Ludlow High School.
Choice of medication will be based on clinical criteria and inmate preference. CODAC will operate a dispensary inside the Hampden County House of Correction seven days a week to provide dosing and other services.
For inmates who have an active MAT prescription when they enter the prison, treatment can be continued once the medication is confirmed. All entering inmates will be screened, and those who report opioid use, past or present, will be assessed for eligibility for MAT, and started on medication if appropriate.
Inmates have a post-release plan, and when released to their communities will have continuity of care. The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department’s MAT Initiative will collect data and share it with public agencies in the state.